Call it a choice

Illustration by Phil Wooley/Nevada Appeal

Illustration by Phil Wooley/Nevada Appeal

Dan Albee calls it a choice.

He does it to give back and to help those in need, not for honors and medals.

It was his choice to enter the U.S. Navy, his decision to join the Nevada National Guard and his option to become a Carson City firefighter.

Albee, who turns 50 this year, is deployed in Iraq, serving as a fireman in the 447th ESG, BIAP at Sather Air Base, Iraq.

"I would not consider myself heroic. Others would say what I do for a living is heroic. I have chosen to be a firefighter and a member of the armed forces.

"Although there are times when we, as firefighters and military personnel, give of ourselves to save others. I am doing what I love doing. It enables me to give back to my country and my community as well as helping those in need," Albee said by e-mail from Iraq.

Albee has wanted to be a fireman since he was a teenager and caused a small fire while lighting the barbecue. The experience, along with the example set by his parents, stuck with him. After five years in the Navy, he joined the Nevada National Guard to gain experience in firefighting.

He has been in the guard for 21 years and been with the Carson City Fire Department for 16.

While in Iraq, he works 24-hours shifts, alternating between on-duty and off-duty days. He responds to fire calls as well as maintaining equipment and vehicles. Albee is also a member of the base's honor guard, presenting colors for changes of command, awards ceremonies and other events such as USO shows or visiting dignitaries.

Albee said the term hero is reserved for what he considers a more deserving group.

"The soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who have given the ultimate sacrifice by dying for their country - they are my heroes. Until you witness it firsthand, it's hard to understand. They are giving their lives for the sake of freedom, not only for the United States but for the people living in Iraq and Afghanistan whom they may never meet. They are the true heroes.

"I will also say, in my eyes, another true hero is the families, friends and co-workers who stand behind and support us when we all deploy, with the uncomfortable feeling we may not return," Albee said.

In addition to loving his job, Albee said something else drives him to keep doing what he does, even if it puts him in harm's way.

"Knowing that you hopefully made a difference in someone's life for the better. It's rewarding knowing you have made a difference in someone's life when they were in a time of need. Although, things don't always end up the way you would have liked," Albee said.

Albee is scheduled to return home to his wife, her three and his two children sometime in June.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

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